Obama Portraits Tour

In February 2018, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery revealed its official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. The Obama Portraits were created by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. The portraits soon became iconic and have been getting unprecedented responses from the general public. Wiley and Sherald are the first African Americans to be commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create official paintings of Presidents or First Ladies.

Wiley painted Obama sitting on a chair with a stunning backdrop including chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago. The painting is extremely eye-catching because of its exotic background. Michelle Obama can be seen with a baby blue backdrop sitting and gazing at the observer. These beautiful portraits have drawn a record number of visitors to the Portrait Gallery.

The portraits are now touring around the nation for people to enjoy. “The portraits are going to be shared with people who did not have the opportunity to see them,” said Ms. Sherald in a telephone interview. The tour will embark on a journey across the US to celebrate all that Michelle Obama and Barack Obama have done for the United States during Barack Obama’s presidency. The Obama Portraits will begin at the Art Institute of Chicago in June 2021 and will end in May of 2022 with stops at the Brooklyn Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Altogether, The Obama Portraits are a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in appreciating beautiful art and the work of our former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Ben Sindell ’22

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